Since being named the Official Representative of the Honorable Nelson Mandela’s family in North America back in 2014, Ottawa entrepreneur and community activist Gwen Madiba has become a staple in the local community. She founded the University of Ottawa’s Black History Month gala and the spinoff Ottawa Black History Month Gala, bringing notable celebrities like supermodel Naomi Campbell, eTalk’s Tyrone Edwards, and Reverend Al Sharpton to the capital.
She has also championed a number of other local initiatives, including Meals for Hope and, more recently, Afro World Fest, a free three-day music festival that celebrates Black culture while challenging racial stereotypes of Black people. She has received several awards over the years, including the prestigious Order of Ottawa, as well as landing a spot on the list of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women twice.
Last year, she launched her latest venture, Sponsored By God, a fashion brand that makes trench coats, tees and tracksuits emblazoned with powerful and positive messages. The brand was created in part to help her sustain the Equal Chance foundation, where she is a co-founder and president. The local non-profit is focused on providing essential services and vital resources for vulnerable members of the Black community.
“Building a sustainable fashion brand that gives back to the community, while empowering and encouraging folks who wear it, has always been one of my biggest dreams,” said Madiba, who is widely recognized for her philanthropic efforts.
The designer recently revealed the latest in her long list of achievements – an invitation to present Sponsored By God at New York Fashion Week this fall. “This is major for me and could be life changing, not just for me, but for the many people that my team and I work for,” she said.
Madiba is the second Ottawa designer to present at New York Fashion Week in recent years. Stacey Bafi-Yeboa of Stacey Martin Lifestyle, formerly Kania, appeared at New York Fashion Week in 2017.
To cover the cost of participating in the show, she has started a GoFundMe campaign. Donate here to help her reach her $6,000 goal and head to NYFW this fall.